Press Release

Legislation to Collect Expired Marine Flares Passes Senate Committee

SB 1066 ensures that expired marine flares are properly disposed of and do not end up polluting the environment or endangering others  

SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, requiring producers of marine flares to establish and run a program to collect expired and unwanted flares passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on Wednesday.

Marine flares are a common way boaters meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements for carrying approved, unexpired visual distress signals for use in case of emergency while in coastal waters. Many boaters favor this option due to increased visibility during the day. 

Marine flares expire 42 months after manufacture, and each year in California, approximately 174,000 flares expire. However, there are no facilities in California that have the necessary permit to treat or dispose of these flares. Nearly all household hazardous waste (HHW) facilities are not permitted to accept flares due to the potential danger.

This leaves boaters with few options. As a result, some boaters stockpile their expired flares, creating a fire hazard, or dispose of them in the ocean, polluting the water with toxins.

“Boaters want to be good stewards and properly dispose of dangerous expired flares but have no easy way to do it,” Sen. Blakespear said. “SB 1066 sets up a program to make disposing flares as easy as purchasing them to protect the environment, boaters and the general public.”

Local governments report finding flares left in front of fire and police stations or improperly disposed of in the trash. This puts public safety workers at great risk, because an expired marine flare can accidentally explode while being handled.

SB 1066 shifts responsibility for disposing of marine flares from local government to those who produce them. The legislation requires manufacturers to create a producer responsibility plan for the collection, transportation and safe management of expired flares. The plan must involve a free and convenient statewide collection program with permanent collection sites, as well as a statewide education and outreach program, including prominently displayed and easily visible signs at point of sale and in marinas.

The bill is co-sponsored by the National Stewardship Action Council and Zero Waste Sonoma, and it is supported by 41 organizations, including Californians Against Waste, the California State Association of Counties, Heal the Bay and the League of California Cities.

SB 1066 goes next to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Elected in 2022, Sen. Blakespear represents Senate District 38, which covers northern San Diego County and part of Orange County. To learn more about the district and Sen. Blakespear, visit her Senate website.